NASHVILLE, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – At age 16, she was given a life sentence and now 15 years later, convicted killer Cyntoia Brown is a free woman.
Brown shot and killed Johnny Allen and claimed it was self defense. The Tennessee Department of Correction released her this morning after Governor Bill Haslam granted her clemency in January.
Brown’s attorney, Ed Yarbrough, says this was an extraordinary case because of Cyntoia’s ability to truly transform herself in prison. Once she earned her GED, she started her collegiate studies and dedicated her life to helping others.
“To know of somebody who is really in prison for the rest of her life is going to get out, and today she’s out,” Yarbrough said. “About two years ago, give or take, it was obvious that executive clemency was going to be the only viable route to having her released.”
Yarbrough says today his client received mercy by the governor of Tennessee as she was released on supervised parole. She was initially given a life sentence for murder.
“And it took a few years, I mean she was a handful when she first went in there. She wasn’t fit to be in society, she admits that and after a few years, something clicked in the system,” Yarbrough said.
In 2004, as a runway, Brown said she was forced into prostitution. Her lawyers claim she was a victim of sex trafficking who feared for her life the night she shot Johnny Allen in the back of the head at close range with a gun from her purse.
“This was never about human trafficking for us, this was never about Me Too, it was about rehabilitation. She admitted that she committed a crime,” Yarbrough explained.
Yarbrough believes Governor Haslam granted her clemency because he felt her life could be just as productive on the outside of prison as it was inside. Cyntoia told her attorneys she is not going to let Governor Haslam down.
“I believe justice has been done, even though it is justice tempered with a great deal of mercy,” Yarbrough explained.
Brown said she will use her experience in prison to help other women and girls suffering from abuse. She has received multiple job offers and even wrote a book that will include Memoirs she wrote while in prison. She’ll remain on parole for the next 10 years.